The Psychological Effects of Being Involved in a Car Accident

No one wants to or plans to be involved in a car accident, but unfortunately, they do happen. You can and should do your best to avoid accidents by paying attention, following the speed limit, and never driving while intoxicated. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can drive after drinking because your home is not that far away. Accidents are traumatic enough without adding a whole new level of liability and penalties.

People experience a wide range of emotions from fear, nervousness, anger, shock, or guilt. It is important for you to realize that whatever you are feeling is natural and understandable.

To help you get through the recovery process after a car accident, you can look to your insurance broker for some guidance. Your policy might include benefits that you are either not aware of or don’t remember. In addition, you do need to let your insurance company know that you have been involved in an accident to start the claims process. This is why it is so important to make the right choice when purchasing your car insurance. You want to find a broker that has your best interest in mind and has a place online for you to see how other customers feel about the company like Mercury insurance reviews. You can get an idea of what your experience might be by seeing what others’ experience has been with the same company and then make an informed decision.

Stay Calm

This might sound easier than it actually is. After people have been in an accident, even a minor one, it is not uncommon for their adrenaline to kick in immediately causing them to shake and panic. Staying calm after an accident will help you in the long run. Try taking some deep breaths, count to ten, and gather your thoughts. The calmer you are, the better prepared you will be to deal with and handle the immediate and longer-term effects of being involved in a car accident.

Feeling Angry

Everyone reacts differently to situations. Some people get very angry after an accident. They might be angry at themselves, the other driver involved in the accident, or even outside factors that might have had an influence. Drivers might not even realize they are angry but might find themselves snapping irritably at others. This is a natural response when both your mind and body are under a lot of stress. The important thing is to try not to let your anger make the situation worse or negatively affect those around you. Don’t blame yourself for feeling angry, your feelings are valid. Try to refocus and channel your anger into positive steps that you need to follow after an accident.

Feeling Emotionally Shocked

It is not uncommon for someone involved in a car accident to experience emotional symptoms of shock like feeling numb and uncertain. This is not the same kind of physical shock that is a serious medical condition requiring immediate emergency attention. If you or someone else involved in the accident experience rapid or shallow breathing, weak or rapid pulse, dizziness, weakness, or fainting, this can be a life-threatening situation and you should call 911 immediately. Emotional shock can last for several days after the accident and is not uncommon. You might also experience mood swings as part of this emotional distress. This is a normal response and it will pass over a short period of time as you recover emotionally from your ordeal.

Feeling Guilty

Although it is understandable, guilt is a wasted emotion. According to Psychology today, guilt is attached to a judgment. If you feel guilty, it is because you are attached to a judgment that is coming from outside of yourself. Instead of looking outside yourself to define who you are, rely on your own internal mechanisms of self-regulation and decision-making. Even if the accident could have been avoided had you done something differently, don’t beat yourself up and play the “what if” game. It is not productive and you are only hurting yourself. Rather than sinking into your guilt, use this as a learning experience. For example, if you feel that you should have been paying more attention to the road, be sure to correct this the next time you get in a car.

If any of your emotions, like anxiety, last a long time or get in the way of your moving on, like getting back in a car, you should seek help from a professional counselor.

No matter how good a driver you are, car accidents can happen. That is why they are called “accidents”. Understanding that many emotions are normal and knowing when the emotions become serious enough to warrant more attention, will help you get through the aftermath of an accident and move on with your life.

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